Cheese study emphasizes consumer opinion over expert assessment

December 14, 2005

A recent study comparing consumer acceptance of cheeses with quality scores given by expert dairy assessors revealed notable differences between how consumers responded to certain cheeses and how experts predicted they would respond. As a result, researchers highlight the importance of recognizing differences between these two groups, and particularly in giving more weight to the opinions of the consumer when determining food quality standards. This study is published in the Journal of Food Quality.

A total of 12 Norwegian cheeses were evaluated by five expert individuals, who professionally predict the likelihood of consumer rejection of a product. Five selected cheeses were then evaluated by 110 consumers. Participants in the study rated their overall liking of the cheeses, flavor intensity and degree of soft or firm texture.

One notable finding was that one of the cheeses, which was scored lowest overall by the experts, was scored higher among one consumer segment. This could be because some consumers actually favored certain characteristics of flavor or texture considered to be defects in the cheeses by the assessors.

"It is important to study consumer responses to food products and to check the results against defined quality standards and tolerance limits," states lead researcher, Margrethe Hersleth of the Norwegian Food Research Institute. "Hopefully, food companies will pay more attention to consumer responses during establishment and evaluation of quality standards. It is important to do more research on methods for obtaining sensory specifications with consumer input."
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This article is published in the Journal of Food Quality. Media who wish to receive a PDF of this article may contact professionalnews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net.

Margrethe Hersleth is a research scientist at the Norwegian Food Research Institute (Matforsk) in Norway She is also Associate Professor in Sensory Science at the Agricultural University of Norway, Department of Chemistry, Biotechnology and Food Science, where she also has received a Master of Science in Food Technology and a PhD in Sensory Science. She can be reached for questions at margrethe.hersleth@matforsk.no.

About the Journal
The Journal of Food Quality is the only scientific, peer-reviewed journal explicitly devoted to issues of food quality. Readers will discover articles on the handling of food from a quality and sensory perspective. Every issue is teeming with research papers, and "research notes," a section which provides readers with a new perspective or application on existing methodology.

About Blackwell Publishing
Blackwell Publishing is the world's leading society publisher, partnering with more than 600 academic and professional societies. Blackwell publishes over 750 journals annually and, to date has published close to 6,000 text and reference books, across a wide range of academic, medical, and professional subjects.

Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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